5K reward offered for info as Marblehead officials investigate arson case

Marblehead News staff
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Marblehead Fire Chief Jason R. Gilliland, Marblehead Police Chief Dennis King, and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey are asking for the public’s help as they investigate a suspicious fire Monday morning at a building under construction.

In particular, officials hope to identify and speak with a person who can be seen in footage that was recorded around the time of the fire by a camera near the scene.

“We believe this person may have information that could be helpful to investigators,” said Gilliland. “We also encourage anyone with knowledge of the incident to contact the Arson Watch Reward Program at 1-800-682-9229. You can reach out 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and all calls are confidential.”

The Arson Watch Reward Program is coordinated by the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriters Association and offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information that detects or prevents arson fires. Tipsters may also contact Marblehead Police directly at 781-631-1212.

“A fire in a building that’s under construction, renovation, or demolition is dangerous,” said Ostroskey. “These structures often have limited fire protection measures in place. That puts firefighters at greater risk, and it means fires can cause more damage or put the community in harm’s way by spreading to occupied homes and businesses.”

In August, crews responded to a suspicious fire at the Transfer Station. Gilliland said he believed that fire was set, because it had already spread to multiple piles of yard waste by the time firefighters arrived on the scene.

“I just find it hard to believe it went from this pile, to that pile, to that pile,” Gilliland said at the time. “Usually, they start inside the pile, not outside the pile.”

The Transfer Station fire, which cost $65,000 to clean up, is being investigated by Marblehead Police Sgt. Sean Brady and Capt. Eric Ridge.

The fire at 265 Pleasant St. was first reported through an alarm activation at about 1 a.m. on Oct. 24 and quickly extinguished. Its origin and cause are being jointly investigated by the Marblehead Fire Department, Marblehead Police detectives, and the State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office.

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